As part of Future producers we are lucky enough to be given a small amount of budget each to take research trips for our projects. Here is a quick look at some of the workshops/exhibitions I’ve attended in preparation for the Watershed’s sci-fi Fun Palace: The Mothershed!
Last night a few of the Future Producers (including some from the BFI Sci-fi screenings team) attended Maison Paradiso’s immersive Utopia event on the 5th floor of the Arnolfini.
Maison Paradiso was conceived in early 2014 as a response to many current trends which we found interesting, such as the publics gathering interest in unusual or forgotten spaces, pop up culture, immersive entertainment, crafted food and drinks and flamboyant revelry. We aim to bring together elements of these worlds to create spectacular and memorable experiences
A UTOPIAN themed party experience: Hanging circus starlets as “the birds of paradise”, roaming circus artists and interactive attractions. Late night disco from DJ Suisse Tony, cocktails and much more
There was a pop-up restaurant beforehand but we joined for the party only. It was a thrilling spectacle. From the moment you stepped through the doors you felt that you’d left Bristol (and your own life) altogether. This was helped by the stunning night views across the sparkling city. I never knew such a gem was hidden on the Arnolfini’s top floor, to be honest I never even knew it had a top floor.
The party started slowly, as the dinner guests finished their deserts and joined us in the dance room. There were ballet dancers, hoop swingers and aerialists who floating in-between the party-goers; flowing in and out of their performances with an ease that sparkled with sophistication. The performance moment just seemed to happen. The party-goers would take a break from dancing ferociously to circle round whatever circus event was taking place. It felt like something straight out of Angela Carter. This wasn’t only thanks to the performers; the guest’s costumes were something in themselves. It was a great event to people watch at. Each individual that pinged through the elevator doors seemed to be dressed more flamboyantly than the previous. Forget the magic of Willie Wonka’s glass elevator, Maison Paradiso’s produced leopard-print catsuits, glittering gowns, feathers and sequins galore. It was a fancy-dress delight which oozed bourgeois decandence.
A couple of photos of the Future Producers last night. We were all feeling very underdressed compared to some of the people at the party! In the background you can see a glimpse of the spectacular views over the city I mention above.
Why it was useful for Fun Palace research
As part of The Mothershed we are going to be hosting a ‘Moon Party’ on Saturday 4th October. This will link thematically with the BFI’s chosen film screening of ‘Moon’ on the same evening.It was great to attend Utopia’s ‘dream’ party to see how they used their theme to give the evening a sense of cohesion. They managed to blend their events effectively that you really left feeling satisfied by the experience of the evening.
One way this was achieved was through their strong use of imagery. The ‘rabbit mask’ image was used on their promotional material before the event and during it, when it was projected on the main wall as we arrived and then later ballet-dancers entered wearing these masks. This bestowed the event with a feeling of identity. Such a strong use of symbol was, in my opinion, one of the reasons for the event’s success.
I was also impressed by how Maison Paradiso managed the performances and made them work as part of the party rather than detract from it or jar with it. For our Fun Palace it was good to see how this was achieved as we will also have a lot of different elements working. At the Moon Party there will be UV ping-pong, DJs, Memotone’s interactive set, fancy dress and robots. On the Sunday we’ll have even more going on with panel discussions, competitions and demonstrations. It was good to get an idea of how another event managed so many different elements.
Lighting also played a big role in the mood of the evening. This is something which we’ve been thinking about a lot and I talk about in depth in my blog post on the Raw Shorts events at the BFI. I’ll just say that I felt their use of unusual purple tones worked well in their favour and we’ll definitely think about how lighting carefully for the Mothershed.
And finally, through our conversations with people on the evening and after it, we’ve drummed up more interest in the event and promoted the sense of artistic collaboration and sharing that the Fun Palaces are all about.